Last week we talked about how writing is private, just for you. But the other side of the coin is, writing is meant to be shared. Sometimes before you truly believe it’s “ready” to be seen. If I had it my way, my novel would be published before anyone else reads it. But that’s not realistic. I need to know if my writing makes sense to others, is not harmful to others, and quite frankly, I’ve been staring at the words so long, I need someone new to come in and tell me what they think. The whole story is mapped out in my head, and I know the characters so well, that even if a passage didn’t make sense or belong, I might not know that. Because in my mind, it does.
We as writers are private and protective of our work (which is funny because so many of us spill our private guts in public). Our work is our baby. We’ve spent countless unpaid hours on it and when someone points out an error or a criticism it can feel like the whole world is crashing down. My ego used to be terrible. I once showed a piece I was proud of to someone I trusted and when they gave me (constructive, polite) feedback, I was so taken aback. How could they not see how BRILLIANT I was? I stopped sharing my writing for years afterwards.
But fuck that!! No more!! I want to get my voice out there. So I have to share my work. Rejection SUCKS. But here is a new way to think about it. Read this article by Kim Liao, “Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year.” You will NOT get accepted to every journal, every website, every agent, and every publisher. But to get accepted by one, you must submit.
I’ve been rejected by Autostraddle and Lithub and multiple journals in my life, and that’s okay. I hope to be rejected by them and others, many more times. It’s not that it doesn’t hurt. It’s just that if writing is really what I want to do (it is), and if I really think it’s my calling (I do), then I can’t let a few rejections or some criticism bring me down.
All I am asking you to do is to open yourself up a little bit. Share your work with a trusted friend. Let them hype you up a little bit! And also let them tell you if they don’t like something. But if you never share your work and get outside opinions, then how will you know if it’s any good?
PS – If you truly are a horrible writer and everyone rejects and criticizes your work, you have two choices. To never write/never share your work again OR to work at it, practice, read about craft, take some classes, dissect books you love, and BECOME the writer you want to be.